Las Vegas playwright wins award

Las Vegas resident Brandon Oliver Jones leads a double life.

Jones is a Starbucks barista by day and closet writer by night, although he may not be able to live the life of a secret writer for much longer.

In fact, the secret is out, a natural result of Jones’ winning the Las Vegas Little Theatre’s New Works Competition, which gives a local playwright an opportunity to have his work performed, should he win.

Jones’ play, “When Mom Died On Saturn,” is scheduled to be performed at 8 p.m. every weekend from Friday through May 15 at the Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive .

The play tells the story of a young man who suffers from a form of schizophrenia that preys on his overactive imagination. The show starts when the protagonist, Barry, is released to his older brother, Patrick, after spending 12 years in a mental institution.

“It’s a family drama, but there is some comedy mixed in,” Jones said.

Barry is placed in the asylum after unplugging his deathly ill mother from life support. It comes to light later on that he did it because he believed they were going together to Saturn, where she wanted to die.

“A lot of things come to light in the play where you see that Barry’s mother understood his condition and basically used it to euthanize herself,” he said. “You see these characters evolve, and it’s about forgiveness.”

Jones said he has never taken a writing class, and this was his first play.

“I don’t know where it came from, really,” he said. “It’s like this beast that was working within me, and it just began to flow out.”

TJ Larsen is the director of the play, and he said it was one of the most original scripts he’s ever read.

“It really is this swooping scope of a work,” he said. “I can’t believe it came out of that kid.”

Larsen said the cast has been rehearsing for only a few weeks, but everyone involved is excited to watch audiences react to the material.

“I think this isn’t the kind of thing you see every day,” he said. “I think people will be blown away by the humanity of it all and growing with these characters.”

Jones, who is involved with a number of community theater groups around the valley as an actor, said he plans to continue to pursue writing — but he isn’t quitting his day job just yet.

“I’m still a little new to all this,” he said. “I’m grateful for my wonderful friends who have served as a sounding board through all this. I was able to have two public readings of the play before I even submitted it, which gave me feedback and was tremendously helpful.”

Jones said he hopes to write another play.

“I’ve got a few things in the works,” he said. “Nothing too specific just yet.”

Admission to “When Mom Died on Saturn” is $15. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through May 15.

For more information, call 362-7996 or visit lvlt.org.

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Donnelly at adonnelly@viewnews.com or 380-4535.

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